This commercial building was constructed in 1946 for building owner O.F. Sutter. Several manufacturing, supply and construction-related businesses occupied the building from the late 1940s into the 1980s, including R.N. Brodie Company Meter Manufacturers and Tokheim Oil Tank & Pump (Polk 1948-49, 1955, 1960), John E. Amberg Company Electrical Appliances (Polk 1961-62, 1963), Rockwell Manufacturing Company (Polk 1965), Image Control Systems, Inc. Graphic Art Supplier (Polk 1970), and Fedco Construction (Seattle Daily Times 1972-83). The building currently houses an art gallery.
This building was constructed during the post-World War II era, which was an important period of industrial, commercial and warehouse development in the South Lake Union area. It displays characteristics of the Mid-Century Modern or simply Modern style. The Modern style grew out of construction techniques and materials technologies that developed during and immediately after World War II in response to the need to build economical and easily assembled structures. While these techniques were initially used in the construction of military and mass housing structures, they quickly spread to other building types. Characteristics of Modern commercial vernacular buildings during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s include modular building systems with cladding materials that could be pre-fabricated and assembled on-site. Common cladding materials included brick (frequently Roman brick), formed concrete, simulated stone, aluminum, Vitrolite (opaque glass), glass block, and small mosaic tile. Modern commercial storefronts often featured an “open front” design, which celebrated the display window as the most prominent storefront element in contrast to earlier storefront designs which placed more emphasis on the wall that framed the windows. Windows were typically plate glass with narrow aluminum frames. Plate glass afforded large, uninterrupted expanses of windows that could extend from floor to ceiling, ideal for displaying merchandise. Storefront bulkheads and enframements were commonly clad in brick, stone, or tile.
This modest building displays the following characteristics of the Modern style: an “open front” design featuring three bays of plate glass windows with stopped-in wood sash , a low bulkhead below, and a broad wall area above on which prominent business signage was displayed. The building remains largely intact with the exception of newer corrugated metal siding at the bulkhead.
R.L. Polk Company, “Polk’s City of Seattle Directory,” 1948-49, 1955, 1960, 1961-62, 1963, 1965, 1970.
Seattle Daily Times, Classified Advertisements for Fedco Construction at 221 9th Ave. N., Sept. 17, 1972, p. 156 – March 7, 1982, p. 103.
Jackson, Mike, FAIA. “Storefronts of Tomorrow.” Preserving the Recent Past 2. Eds. Deborah Slaton and William G. Foulks. Washington DC: Historic Preservation Education Foundation, National Park Service, Association for Preservation Technology, 200. 57-65.